A number of schools in Montgomery County run the Civilian Marksmanship Program which provides ninth through 12 graders with training on the mechanics of gun safety and marksmanship. These indoor firing ranges are housed in classrooms inside the school.
However, there are three new findings that raise concerns about these school-based firing ranges. First, the American Public Health Association issued a policy statement calling for a cessation of military programs within the school system. They cite public health reasons including that the adolescent brain is not developed enough for risk calculations. That is, you can teach an adolescent the mechanics of a gun but not when and where to use it.
Second, the U.N. has notified the U.S. that these programs put us out of compliance with the Optional Protocol on the Child Soldier which we are a signatory to.
And lastly, the National Academy of Sciences has issued a report stating there is “overwhelming evidence” that the standards regarding lead exposure in these indoor firing ranges are inadequate and have physical health risk. Sen. Ben Cardin has responded to this by issuing a call to action to better protect military personnel who use indoor firing ranges. He has not yet connected the dots that these indoor firing ranges also exist within Maryland school walls.
Given these recent developments, it would be seem appropriate for our Board of Education to provide a forum in which these findings can be shared and discussed. Parents, teachers and principals need to be aware of expert opinion regarding how firing ranges in our classrooms might adversely affect our children.
Susan Kerin, Derwood